How About Developing Poor Nations While De-developing Rich Nations?
With a monumental celebration in New York the United Nation’s new Sustainable Development Goals were signed off by the heads of state on 25 September 2015. Some of the 17 goals sound familiar; no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, and gender equality. But there are a few new interesting ones; affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.
These new 17 goals will largely dictate where, by whom and how the roughly USD 160 billion of annual development aid will be utilized. Although these goals offer a fresh plan on how to save the world, the main strategy for eradicating poverty remains the same; growth.
Since 1980 the global economy has grown by 380% but the number of people living in poverty (living on less than USD 5 per day) has increased by more than 1.1 billion. Many developing countries were completely left out and the trickle-down effect did not happen. More growth, even if it would be fairer and more equal, is not going to be sustainable. At the current levels of average global consumption, we are already exceeding our planet’s bio-capacity.
There is a standardized unit called ‘global hectares’ that quantifies both the ecological footprint of people or activities as well as bio-capacity of the earth. Right now our planet only has enough resources for each of us to consume 1.8 global hectares annually. People in the US and Canada consume about 8 global hectares while Europeans consume 4.7.